I wanted one
I first learned about ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea four springs ago and decided instantaneously that I wanted one for my garden, and not just because of those gorgeous blue flowers. My grandma had always had these kind of hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) growing in her garden, and had explained to me that the flower color changed depending on the type of soil it was growing in. I could never grow my grandma’s kind of hydrangea because until ‘Endless Summer’ came along, these shrubs only bloomed on last year’s woody growth, which in my climate would get killed to the ground.
I got one
Last year, I finally got one. My first clue that this shrub might not be without faults was Don’s comment that “they are very sensitive to leaf damage from freezing.” And freeze they did, both last year and this year. In my book, it’s a poor kind of hardiness that makes it through the winter, only to be cut down in spring. Sure, I could use floating row covers on them, as has been suggested, but I wonder if a floating row cover would protect from really hard freezes?
I was talking to Carol of May Dreams Gardens (all right, emailing), remarking on the difference in growth between our two plants. Hers is blooming, mine doesn’t even have buds yet! But she was telling me, “Iâ€™ve been disappointed in ‘Endless Summer’ because the plants just never get that big. Maybe a foot tall or 18 inches.” Mine is already 18 inches tall, and it isn’t ready to bloom yet. But I don’t think the macrophylla hydrangeas ever get as big as the paniculata hydrangeas, which are hardier and a lot more common (as in the ubiquitous ‘PeeGee’) the further north you go. The American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants says H. macrophylla can reach 6 ft. high and 8 ft. wide; it lists H. paniculata as up to 22 ft. high and 8ft. wide. But on the ‘Endless Summer’ website (yeah, a plant with its own website) it says the expected height for ‘Endless Summer’ is only 3 to 5 feet. If we’re going to criticize a plant, we have to criticize it against its claims and not against our experience of other plants.
My shrub also blooms in the same sitting-on-the-fence color as Carol’s: neither pink nor blue, but a bit of both. Since blueberries, which require a very acid soil, grow wild in our field, I had assumed my hydrangea would bloom a glorious blue without any help from me, but apparently the soil near the house is less acid than up the hill.
Not living up to its claims
On the whole, I find this shrub is not living up to its claims. It is not hardy in the way I think of hardy, and it is not perpetually blooming because it takes so long to get going after dying back from late spring frosts. I bet I don’t see a fully colored blossom until August, just like last year.
How about you?
But what about you? For those of you who have planted this shrub, how is it doing for you? Are there others you like better?
He grew the original ‘Endless Summer’
Update: Here’s an article I found about the gardener who grew the hydrangea that became known as ‘Endless Summer’: Tangled Up in Blue. (I had to register on this site to gain access to the article. I’m hoping the link I’ve provided will let you skip that step.)